STARCHES (COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES)
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© January 2019, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment,
prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
are “fuel” foods for our bodies.
They are of two basic types:
Sugars. These are also called simple carbohydrates. They are quite simple molecules. Their names include glucose, fructose,
maltose, sucrose and others. They
are among the most basic of human foods.
Starches. These are also called complex carbohydrates. They are made up of groups of
sugars that are bound tightly together.
Their structure is more complex, and during digestion they break down
is about starches. A separate article
discusses simple carbohydrates and is entitled Sugars.
staple foods for people around the world.
Some are very good foods, while others that are refined and processed
are not good foods today. Among
the best are blue corn chips, and starchy vegetables such as carrots, onions,
and rutabagas. Other healthful
starches are oatmeal, quinoa, millet, and amaranth. We don’t recommend much rice at this time. For details, read Rice Is Contaminated
FOODS CONTAIN A LOT OF STARCH OR COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES?
that are high in starches are:
1. Grains such as rice, corn, wheat, oats,
barley, rye, millet, and others.
This means that all breads, pastries, cookies, cakes, pasta, spaghetti,
potato and corn chips, French fries, doughy foods, deep fried foods, noodles,
and pie crusts tend to be very starchy foods.
2. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes,
sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips and to some degree onions.
3. Dried beans such as pinto beans,
lentils, garbanzo beans, black beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas, red beans, aduki beans and many others eaten around the world.
REQUIRE GOOD DIGESTION
require a few hours to digest. This
is because the starch has to be broken down into sugars in the stomach and the
DO COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES COME FROM?
all of our food comes from the sun and the soil. Plants and animals, to a degree, are able to absorb solar
energy and then transform it into a form that we can use to nourish and power
our bodies. These chemical forms
are called sugars, starches, proteins and fats.
important group of starches are the cereal grains. The most common grain in Western societies is wheat, which
the bible calls “staff of life”.
It is used in bread, pasta, pizza dough and pastries. It is also the main ingredient in
cakes, cookies, as a thickener and as breading for fried food.
grains include corn, rice, rye and barley. Others are millet, oats, buckwheat and some less known ones
such as quinoa, spelt, amaranth and kamut. These are the primary energy foods or
staples for most civilizations on earth.
For example, rice is the major food eaten in China, while corn is eaten
widely in Latin America.
Thousands of varieties of cereal grains are grown around the world. They are versatile, hardy crops that
can be grown in a variety of climates and soils. They literally sustain mankind in many parts of the planet.
grains can be extremely nutritious foods if they are not overly processed or
refined. However, most today are
refined. Let us discuss what this
means in practice.
Today, most cereal
grains are highly refined or processed.
For example, white flour is made from wheat. However, the bran (fiber) and the germ (embryo) are removed,
leaving mainly the starchy part of the wheat.
This is a
shame because refining whole grains removes most of their vitamins and
minerals. In making white flour,
about 75% of the minerals are lost from the whole wheat.
deceptively labeled ‘wheat flour’, contains 13% of the chromium, 9% of the
manganese, 19% of the iron, 30% of the cobalt, 10-30% of the copper and only17%
of the zinc and magnesium contained in the whole wheat. Brown rice suffers somewhat less losses
when it is refined into white rice.
whole grains not only removes most of their trace minerals. It also removes most of their essential
B vitamins. White flour contains
only 23% of the thiamine, 20% of the riboflavin, 19% of the niacin, 29% of the
pyridoxine, 50% of the pantothenic acid and 33% of
the folic acid. Eighty-six percent
of the vitamin E is also lost when whole wheat is made into white flour.
wheat bran does additional nutritional damage. Bran, which is mainly a fibrous substance, helps avoid
constipation and can assist in the production of some vitamins in the
best parts of the wheat has been removed, most flour is bleached with chlorine
bleach similar to that used to whiten clothing. When cooked, it forms toxic chlorinated compounds. Many pesticides, for example, are
Flour. Almost 100 years ago, tests were made
feeding only white flour to animals.
The test animals developed fatal neurological problems. This is because the vitamins and minerals
in the wheat are needed to digest the flour. As a result of these experiments, our government requires
that all white flour be enriched with three B vitamins and iron.
beneficial to a slight degree.
However, it has caused other serious problems. First, the flour is still deficient in at least 30 other
minerals, vitamins and oils.
Secondly, adding only one mineral, iron, completely unbalances the
food. Minerals normally compete
for absorption with each other.
minerals are removed through refining, and then a single mineral is added in
significant quantity, too much of that mineral can be absorbed, leading to
mineral imbalances. This is
exactly what occurs today.
Fortunately, the non-organic form of iron in white flour is poorly
absorbed. Even so, we get too much
iron from white flour that is not balanced with other vital minerals.
PROBLEMS WITH WHEAT
Wheat can no
longer be considered “the staff of life”.
In fact, it has become one of the most common allergic foods and a food
to avoid in all forms. Many people
report that when they completely eliminate wheat from the diet they have more
energy, fewer allergies, improved digestion and they often lose weight as
well. Heartburn often decreases or
goes away completely they have less gas or bloating as well. Let us examine why.
Hybridization. Wheat grown
today is extremely hybridized.
This means it has been altered to produce greater yields, more bug
resistance or a better shelf life.
However, it has not been bred for improved nutrition or easier
digestion, for example.
In fact, the
protein content of our wheat has declined significantly over the past century,
from about 13% to about 5-6% today.
Wheat now contains more starch, less protein and fewer trace
minerals. Wheat today is also
extremely high in glutamine, an amino acid that has an inflammatory effect on
the body. In addition, wheat
contains gluten, a protein to which an increasing number of people are
allergic. These are just a few of
the effects of modern hybridization of wheat. Newer genetically-modified wheat may have even more problems,
such as containing some degree of pesticides that are literally bred into the
plant to resist pests.
Foods. If one eats processed foods,
eliminating wheat is not easy because it is hidden in so many processed
foods. One must read labels carefully,
and even then there are occasional surprises. Those who are sensitive to gluten must also eliminate rye,
oats, spelt and barley from their diets as well. The clinical name for gluten sensitivity is celiac
disease. However, as more people
are choosing to eliminate all wheat, which I strongly recommend, more and more
foods are available that are wheat-free and even gluten-free. Eating at home makes it much easier to
avoid wheat by just staying away from wheat pasta, most breads, cookies, cakes,
breading used on deep-fried foods, thickeners and dressings containing wheat
flour. Substitutes for these are
often easy to find.
grains may be eaten in moderation by most people, especially brown rice, white
Basmati rice and organic blue corn chips with sea salt. Some people must avoid
most grains for a while to help lose weight or if their bodies are high in
yeast or candida albicans
infection grains may bother their bodies.
vegetables are a very important food group that almost everyone fails to eat
enough of. Starchy vegetables such
as roots contain some complex carbohydrates. The best root vegetables include onions, carrots, turnips,
rutabagas, golden beets, celery root and parsnips. Others, which are less healthful, are potatoes, squashes, jicama, sweet potatoes, yams and daikon
and yin vegetables. Potatoes,
along with tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and a few others are in the nightshade
family of vegetables. This group
of foods contains certain toxins that cause reactions in sensitive
individuals. Squash, along with
peppers, tomatoes and a few other vegetables, are, in fact, fruits and are far
more yin in Chinese medical terminology.
For this reason, these are less recommended for daily fare. An occasional serving is okay, however.
vegetables are often easier to digest than cereal grains, and much less
allergenic for most people than wheat.
Roots and tubers usually need cooking to help break down their fiber and
make them easier to digest.
vegetables should be a major part of your diet if you are
health-conscious. They are tasty
and nutritious by themselves, in soups and in casseroles. They keep well in the refrigerator and
are generally inexpensive.
OR DRIED BEANS
set of foods high in complex carbohydrates is dried beans or legumes. These include lentils, pinto beans,
navy beans, garbanzos and black-eyed peas. Others are lentils, red beans, azuki
beans, peanuts, soybeans, black beans and others.
beans are staple foods in many cultures, as they are inexpensive, nutritious
and they keep well. However, they
are not a major part of the diets we recommend. Reasons for this are:
1. While they are rich in certain amino acids, their protein
content is rather imbalanced. They
are not as high quality proteins as eggs, meats and other animal products. This is not helpful for many people,
especially in Western nations.
2. They are more yin in Chinese medical
3. They are low in a quality we call etheric energy.
This is a life energy quality that increases when one is in the animal
realm, but is less in the vegetable kingdom.
Soy. Soy should
be fermented for best digestion, as is done with tofu, tempeh,
and miso and other fermented soy products. Fermenting soybeans helps destroy
enzyme inhibitors, phytates and other harmful
chemicals they contain. For this
reason, I do not recommend soy protein isolate, soymilks, soy burgers and other
soy products that have not been fermented.
important point about all starches is they begin to be digested in the mouth.
They will become sweet if you chew each bite at least 10 times. So chew your starches thoroughly.
carbohydrates are not well digested by human beings. We call these fibers. These serve as roughage. Sometimes vegetable fibers are
classified as soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers include psyllium
and pectin, among others.
Insoluble fibers include cellulose and bran from wheat, oats or other
grains. Cellulose forms the
structure of most plants and can be digested by some animals. Pectin is a fruit fiber.
an important group of food products for the following reasons:
create bulk in the intestines that help move food along in the intestines.
fibers are used for the synthesis of vitamins in the intestines.
3. Fiber is
very important to absorb certain toxins and other chemicals as food passes
through the intestines. One of the
most important chemicals they absorb is cholesterol, secreted in the bile. However, there are many, many
others as well. All foods contain
toxic chemicals in small quantities.
Fiber is essential to bind many of these harmful chemicals and remove
them from the body. Soluble fibers such as pectin, alginates and others can
absorb toxic metals as well.
fibers can slow the absorption of sugars in the diet, helping to maintain a
more balanced blood sugar level.
can sometimes be broken down in the intestines and used as food. In these cases, the fiber is not
serving as roughage, but it actually used as food. This is less common in human beings, however.
contain some fiber. One of the
worst sins against healthful eating is the removal of the bran fiber from
grains such as wheat, corn and other cereal grains that occurs during the
refining process. This tends to
cause constipation in those eating white flour and to some extent white rice
AND WEIGHT GAIN
carbohydrates is a major cause of excessive weight gain. A common misconception is that eating
fat makes one fat. However, most
weight gain today is due to overeating on refined sugars and, to a lesser
extent, eating complex carbohydrates in excess.
explain why people believe that eating fat makes one fat, and why it is not
Carbohydrates provide four calories (energy units) per gram, while fats provide
nine calories per gram. This leads
many doctors and health authorities to think that fats make you fat, but
carbohydrates do not. However, our
bodies easily convert carbohydrates to fats through the action of insulin and
carbohydrates increases insulin secretion, and decreases zinc, magnesium and
other vital minerals. This can
contribute to weight gain and many other diseases. Eating high quality fats does not increase insulin secretion
pasta, fruit and sweets can also alter neurotransmitter levels in ways that
cause a calming effect. This can
be addictive for some people, leading to overeating on these foods. Dr. Robert Atkins, MD, a cardiologist
in New York City, did quite extensive research on this subject. Although he was scorned for years, his
research has been shown to be valid.
simple tips to avoid overeating on these sweets and starches:
1. Make sure
the carbohydrates you eat are unrefined only. This alone is most helpful. This means to eat only whole grains such as brown rice,
yellow corn tortillas, and only the organic blue corn tortilla chips. Do not eat anything made with wheat
flour, such as flour tortillas, white or “rye” breads unless 100% rye flour,
white rice or white sugar in any form or product. This will limit your soda pop, ice cream, cookies, cakes,
and much more. Also avoid anything
sweetened with fruit juices, as these also count as concentrated sugars with
few other nutrients in them.
2. If you
must have honey or maple syrup, make sure it is 100% pure and not laced with
sugar and use as little as possible.
3. Be sure
to ask for what you want at restaurants.
This way more restaurants will begin to offer the higher quality
foods. Ask that the bread be
removed from the table.
4. Eat some
fats or oils at least twice daily if you are used to eating a lot of
carbohydrates. This way you will
not be so hungry for starches and sugars.
Most people also need to eat protein at least twice daily to avoid sweet
5. If you
are hypoglycemic, or just trying to reduce your carbohydrate intake, eat 4 or 5
small meals during the day of a protein food and some fat and vegetables. This will help maintain your blood
sugar and prevent cravings.
6. Eat only
fresh fruit or frozen berries, and very little of it. Avoid all dried fruit, all sweet fruit like dates, figs and
bananas and avoid canned and baked fruit as well.
carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. This topic is covered in the next
carbohydrate foods raise the level of glucose in the blood. This is considered an unhealthy quality
of carbohydrates. The glycemic index of a food tells to what extent a food raises
the glucose level in the blood relative to other foods. To eat lower glycemic index foods, here are a guidelines:
Eat cereals with oats, barley or bran.
If you eat bread, make sure it is whole-grain, stone ground
Among the grains, Basmati rice, pasta, noodles and quinoa
Eat plenty of vegetables and a few fresh fruits.
However, eat fewer potatoes.
When eating salads, use vinaigrette dressing rather than
blue cheese, thousand island or other sweetened dressings.
Internet offers long lists of foods and their glycemic
index. However, we find that this
is not the most important quality of a food to pay attention to. It is far more important to avoid
refined grains, all sugars and in particular, avoid all wheat products.
1. Cleave, T.L., The Saccharine Disease, The Master Disease Of Our Time, Keats
Publishing, CT, 1974.
2. Hall, R.H., Food For Naught, The Decline in Nutrition, Vintage Books, NY, 1976
3. Schroeder, H., The Trace Elements and Man, Devin-Adair Company, Ct., 1973.