Food Coma: An Overabundance of Simple Carbohydrates
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates can be thought of as foods containing sugar and starch. These type of foods store energy, provide structure for cells and play key roles in bodily processes. An overabundance of certain carbohydrates can lead to many health concerns including a food coma. There are many examples of carbohydrates, and they can be divided into main two categories. There are simple and complex examples of carbohydrates.
Examples of Food with Simple Carbohydrates
- Baked foods made with flour
- Fruit juice
- Carbonated drinks
- Full fat yogurt
- Table sugar
- Flour made pasta
- Some packaged cereals
Examples of Food with Complex Carbohydrates
- Brown rice
- Low fat yogurt
- Soy milk
- Soy beans
Carbohydrates, protein and fat are basic food groups that we get our nutrients from through the meals we eat. They are broken down by the body to generate energy.
Simple carbohydrates like pasta, rice, bread and potatoes have a tendency to release sugar into our body system by breaking down at great speed; while on the other hand, complex carbohydrates such as vegetables high in fiber are very slow in releasing energy.
Understanding Carbohydrate Intolerance and the Food Coma
Carbohydrate intolerance can be explained in simple terms as an inability to digest certain carbohydrates in the digestive system due to lack of one or more enzymes of the intestine. When consuming complex carbohydrates, it usually takes the digestive system a longer time to break them down. Simple carbohydrates can be digested faster, but some people’s digestive system can’t tolerate simple carbohydrates. In fact, if a person eats carbohydrates like bread or pasta and the digestive system cannot tolerate it, the body sometimes enters a mode we call food coma.
What Is A Food Coma
We call it food coma, because soon after you digest carbohydrates like bread or pasta, the body releases an enzyme called insulin. When the body’s cells become resistant to the insulin produced by the pancreas, it results in a rise in blood sugar. The release of excess insulin can cause blood sugar to drop. When the body releases too much insulin and causes the sugar to drop and overshoot the bottom level where your body is comfortable, the response is lethargy. This usually lasts for about an hour or two, and then blood sugar returns to a normal level. Metabolic regulation from your adrenal glands is responsible for this normalization, primarily via the production of the hormone cortisol which works to increase blood sugar. This is a normal function for most people.
How to Know Your Body Doesn’t Tolerate Some Carbohydrates
There are different signs that can hint at carbohydrate intolerance. They look like a simple and innocuous signs, but failure to pay attention to them may cause trouble. However, paying attention to them and piecing the whole clinical picture together with the rest of the body, allows the formation of a complete picture. The symptoms include;
- Fatigue or low energy
- Brain fog
- Poor concentration
- Increased intestinal gas
- Increase in abdominal or facial fat
The Dangers Posed By Carbohydrate Intolerance
When the body is experiencing carbohydrate intolerance, it is a sign of early metabolic imbalance. The body is signaling that sugar metabolism in the body is not functioning correctly. If the body cannot tolerate carbohydrates, some symptoms can include lethargy, a racing heart, anxiety or extreme fatigue. This metabolic issue stems from the triad of the thyroid, pancreas, and receptor sites. The thyroid is the main metabolic regulator, increasing or decreasing the overall metabolic rate. If the metabolism decreases, then food will stay in the gut longer. Simple carbohydrates will start to become toxic if they remain in the gut for extended periods of time. These toxins, when absorbed by the body, can cause many problems, such as brain fog difficulty concentrating, and nausea just to name a few. On top of this, because of a slowed metabolism, your liver does not break down and dispose of toxins in an optimal fashion either. This can compound the issue as toxins start to build up in your body.
Oftentimes, the body may be further metabolically deranged as carbohydrates cause intolerance. Young people often consume soda drinks, eat cakes and bread and nothing happens to them because their body is able to produce the required insulin. However, as the body ages, the issue becomes more problematic as your body’s pancreatic output begins to become compromised and erratic and increase the chance of a food coma.
Insulin output may increase dramatically due to receptor resistance. This can result in a rapid decrease in your blood sugar. In cases of adrenal fatigue, the problem is compounded. The adrenals and pancreas work closely together to regulate blood sugar. While the pancreas produces insulin to decrease blood sugar, the adrenals produce cortisol which increases blood sugar. So when blood sugar drops, the adrenals kick in, release cortisol, and bring sugar levels back up. However, in adrenal fatigue, the adrenals are unable to produce cortisol and blood sugar is unable to stabilize.
Thus, if the pancreas is not in optimum shape and the adrenals are weakened as well, blood sugar balancing becomes a huge problem. It means, not only is there a pancreatic issue to deal with, but an adrenal issue to deal with as well. Because both insulin and cortisol regulate sugar in different ways, if both are not working, the body’s inability to tolerate carbohydrates is going to be a very significant burden. It is important to understand adrenal fatigue and simple carbohydrates intolerance because when the both the pancreas and adrenals are working in overdrive, the difficulties and consequences multiply. Inability to tolerate carbohydrates is seldom recognized and often passed over as an insignificant symptom. If you are familiar with the physiology, you will understand this is an important sign connected to adrenal fatigue that you need to pay attention to.
Get More Information and Seek Expert Help to Understand Yourself
Carbohydrate intolerance in the setting of adrenal fatigue is multifaceted and requires a skilled clinician to navigate. The balance of blood sugar in your body is delicate and must be resolved with care. It is important to recognize the signs of carbohydrate intolerance, and once identified, take the proper corrective measures to resolve the underlying root cause. This can be due to insulin receptor resistance, increased insulin output, insufficient cortisol, or a combination all these factors.
© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Why is it that as we age our bodies tend to tolerate less and less, foods that we would normally consume daily?
As you age, your metabolism goes down so that you won’t be take in as much food. And if you have AFS, you may have more histamine sensitivities to food.
I just finished reading your article Adrenal Exhaustion and am almost speechless. Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you!
Thank-you for your diligent study and years of research, and more so for sharing your findings with us! Also for the project of building this site! I now have an answer not only for myself, but for my sister and Mother as well!
Thank-you once again, and may you be abundantly blessed for your help for so many!