The Toxic Truth: How Excessive Carbohydrates Damage Our Health

Carbohydrates were scarce for our ancestors, but today we consume them in abundance. This overconsumption of carbohydrates, especially refined and processed ones, has led to declining health over the past century. Both glucose and fructose can have harmful effects on the body when consumed in excess. Understanding how our bodies metabolize carbohydrates and the direct and indirect consequences of overconsumption can help us make better dietary choices.

Our Ancestral Diet was Low in Carbohydrates

For the vast majority of human evolution, carbohydrates made up a very small part of our ancestral diet. The only significant sources of carbohydrates would have been seasonal fruits, honey, small amounts of glycogen from meat, and breastmilk. This means our carbohydrate intake was limited for most of the year.

In contrast, today carbohydrates make up a large percentage of many modern diets, with abundance available year-round from grains, sugars, fruits and starchy vegetables. Our health has suffered as a result of this mismatch between our ancestral diet and our current carb-rich diets.

We Don’t Actually Need Dietary Carbohydrates

While glucose is required by a few tissues like red blood cells, the body can produce enough glucose through gluconeogenesis. Our cells can also get energy from fat and protein. So there are no essential carbohydrates we need to obtain from our diets.

Mother Nature did not make us dependent on seasonally available carbs. The excess carbohydrates we consume simply add an unnecessary metabolic burden on our bodies.

Toxicity of Excess Glucose

Glucose is effectively toxic in our bloodstreams. Normal blood glucose is around 90 mg/dL, equivalent to about 4 grams or 1 teaspoon of sugar. Anything exceeding this small amount requires immediate removal from circulation by insulin.

Chronically high blood glucose leads to “glycation” damage to tissues, where glucose molecules bind to proteins. This degradation of tissues over time leads to the complications of diabetes like organ damage. Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) measures this cumulative damage to red blood cells.

High blood glucose also damages the endothelial glycocalyx lining blood vessels. This leads to impaired vasodilation and a “leaky” circulatory system. Restoring low carbohydrate intake can regenerate the glycocalyx layer in a matter of days.

Indirect Damage from Hyperinsulinemia

The elevated insulin secretion provoked by high carb intake causes its own set of problems. Insulin promotes growth of certain tumors and cancers. It also triggers inflammation, depletes magnesium, reduces vitamin D activation, and increases risk of blood clots.

Lowering carbohydrate intake has been proven in numerous studies to be the most effective method for improving diabetes control and cardiovascular risk markers, even before significant weight loss occurs.

Fructose Metabolism and Effects

While chemically similar to glucose, fructose follows very different metabolic pathways and has unique deleterious effects. Small amounts of fructose can be converted to glycogen or turned into fat. But excess fructose gets metabolized through the liver via the aldehyde pathway, which can effectively turn it into alcohol.

This pathway also generates uric acid. Elevated uric acid causes gout, inflammation, and inhibits nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide helps control blood pressure and blood flow to the brain. Impaired nitric oxide is implicated in hypertension, dementia, strokes, and mental illness.

Fructose also induces insulin and leptin resistance, causing increased hunger and accelerating fat storage. It promotes formation of small dense LDL particles that are prone to oxidation and promote heart disease.

Prioritizing Nutritional Ketosis

Given the dangers of excessive carbohydrates, we should instead prioritize nutritional ketosis as our normal metabolic state. Ketosis was the norm for our distant ancestors. Infants remain in ketosis for months after birth. Ketosis is safe during pregnancy and critical for fetal development.

The pregnant women who experience more severe morning sickness and maintain ketosis give birth to healthier babies with fewer complications compared to mothers with gestational diabetes. Maternal ketosis does not restrict fetal growth.

Ketosis Is Safe Operating Mode For Humans

Rather than being harmful, ketosis is the safe ancestral operating mode for humans. It likely stimulates and regulates our immune function. Transitioning away from excessive carbohydrates to a ketogenic diet low in carbs and higher in healthy fats is optimal for all stages of life.

The metabolic evidence clearly shows we should avoid chronic carbohydrate overconsumption. Just 1 teaspoon of sugar over our immediate requirements elicits a toxic metabolic response. By returning to our ancestral dietary pattern of low carbohydrates and nutritional ketosis, we can restore our health and reverse the modern epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

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